Quantcast

Former BYU star Frank Fredericks in pursuit of Olympic gold

Published: Monday, June 7 2004 12:55 a.m. MDT

Former BYU star Frank Fredericks of Namibia celebrates his victory in the men's 200-meter final in the IAAF Japan event.

Koji Sasahara, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

WINDHOEK, Namibia — At age 36 and nearing retirement, Namibian sprint sensation Frank Fredericks will get one more shot at the medal that has eluded him: Olympic gold.

He's won a world championship in the 200 meters, set African records in the 100 and 200, and is the only Namibian ever to win Olympic medals — capturing the silver in both the 100 and 200 in Barcelona and Atlanta.

Now he's training for Athens with his eye on the gold.

"It is the one medal that is outstanding. If I don't win, then it just means Frankie Fredericks was not meant to have a gold medal," he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press at a stadium where he holds a weekly training clinic for promising athletes.

In the 1992 Barcelona Games, he finished second behind Linford Christie of Britain in the 100 and Mike Marsh of the United States in the 200.

Four years later in Atlanta, Canada's Donovan Bailey won the 100 in a world record 9.84 seconds, just five-hundredths of a second faster than Fredericks. Michael Johnson of the United States clocked a world record 19.32 in the 200 to leave Fredericks the runner-up again at 19.68.

Fredericks skipped the 2000 Sydney Olympics because of an Achilles tendon injury. Then last October, after finishing second in the 200 in the All Africa games, Fredericks was quoted as saying it was time to retire from international competition.

He angrily refutes the reports, saying he only said these would be his last Africa games because he is not going to compete at 40.

Athens, however, will be his last Olympics.

Fredericks is one of only a handful of Namibians who will represent their impoverished southern African country at the Summer Games.

"It is exciting to know I am going to the biggest show on Earth," he said.

Training so far this season has gone well, Fredericks said, but the true test will come in a number of high-profile races in Europe before the Athens Games.

"I ran the other day feeling well, so I am happy with the way it's going," he said. "But it's going to be hard because I am 36, so you know it's not getting easier."

Fredericks will compete in the 200 meters and possibly the 100. Despite his aging legs, Fredericks clocked the 9th best time in the 100 in 2003.

After the Olympics, Fredericks will continue running but plans to spend more time at his company, Cherish Investments.

Fredericks has a bachelor's degree in computer science and an MBA from Brigham Young University.

. He also earned a trove of athletic accomplishments, including setting BYU records in the 100 and 200 meter sprints and three NCAA titles in his senior year.

The sprinter wants to give back to Namibia through his Frank Fredericks Foundation, which offers academic and athletic scholarships to young athletes. In a country where an estimated 56 percent of the population lives on under $2 per day, just getting to the practice sessions can be prohibitively expensive.

Fredericks trains with most of them at the stadium gym.

"I am using the gym so they don't think that to be good you need to use the modern gyms," he said. "They have everything that I think one needs to become a world-class athlete."

The foundation has already supported 60 young athletes, some of whom have become well-known internationally. Sherwin Vries, who recently immigrated to South Africa, has gotten very close to beating the South African 100 meters record.

"I am proud to say he was a product of my identification," Fredericks said.

Once he hangs up his track shoes, Fredericks said he would like to continue representing Namibia, perhaps as an ambassador.

"I have been serving, giving my time to Namibia for the last 14 years," he said. "If the next president of this country feels that I am capable, it would be a continuation of what I am doing now."

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS